Fair winds down under sunny skies

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There were no bum steers Saturday at the Washington County Agricultural Fair. No bum hogs or lambs either.


Creatures were the featured attractions as the 217th annual extravaganza wound down under sunny skies and amid familiar agrarian sounds.


The Market Livestock Sale was the central event, a lengthy yet popular set of auctions for which animal and human alike hoofed it up the hill in large numbers into the Harry Hank Show Arena.


Attendance was strong again Saturday, pushing the eight-day figure over 60,000 – a major rally after heavy rains threatened to undermine the fair early last week.


“The fair has gone well,” said Pam Paletta, 4-H coordinator for the local Penn State Extension Service and a fair veteran. “The weather was an issue, but the end of the week has been great. From Wednesday on, we’ve had good crowds.”


One of the directors, Wayne Hummel was concerned after some popular events were canceled. Harness Racing and Pro Stock Tractors/Hot Semis succumbed to rain Monday and Monster Trucks Tuesday at the Chartiers Township venue.


“The Monster Trucks (cancellation for the evening) hurt us,” he said, “not only because it’s one of our biggest draws, but we had to call it off early in the day, which affected the crowd overall. It ruined the whole day, really.


“But considering two days of rainouts, this hasn’t been bad.”


The 51st annual livestock sale, as usual, was a two-day affair, starring rabbits and goats Friday and lambs, steers and hogs Saturday. Individuals or organizations bid on the beasts and either kept them or donated them back to their exhibitors.


Participants in two youth programs, the 4-H and Future Farmers of America, raised all of the livestock that was auctioned. Saturday, they presented 141 hogs, 96 lambs, 32 steers for bid.


Each category of bidding began with the grand champions: Eric Putnak’s hog, Amanda Cole’s steer and Zach Rohaley’s lamb.


Cole, a senior at Bentworth High School representing Clyde Ag, showed Felix, a 1,303-pound Angus Maine raised on her family’s Bentleyville farm. It was the 17-year-old’s second champion; her goat in 2011 drew a lofty bid of $125 per pound.


Felix went for $6.50 a pound ($8,469.50 total) to Chetlic Packing of Finleyville.


Killion and Sons Wells Service of Palestine, Texas, bid $20 a pound ($5,380) for the 269-pound hog of Putnak, who is with Pike Run Ag. The 140-pound lamb of Rohaley, also of Clyde Ag, drew a bid of $40 a pound ($5,600) from Eighty Four Packing.


Saturday’s proceedings will close with a rock band. But most of the day, it was the livestock that rocked.


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